Residents of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, were Thursday struck with panic when protesting youths under the aegis of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, stormed the Headquarters of the Nigeria Content Development Management Board (NCDMB).
For about two hours, the aggrieved youths numbering over 100 barricaded the entrance leading to the headquarters located at the Opolo axis of Isaac Boro Expressway and disrupted the activities of the board.
They claimed that the NCDMB violated the Act establishing it by allegedly opening new offices in Lagos and Abuja.
Their presence around the building created security concerns and scared workers, who were compelled to lock themselves in their offices.
The youths arrived the complex at about 9:45am and forced their way into the complex by pulling down a section of the fence when the security guards denied them access to the building through the main gate.
The Chairman, IYC, Central Zone, Tari Porri, led the protest shortly after holding an emergency congress of the youths at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa.
Porri said they discovered that the NCDMB opened new offices in Lagos and Abuja contrary to Section 71, sub-section 3 of the NCDMB laws.
He said that the Act empowered the board to open offices only in oil and gas producing areas and wondered why the board decided to locate offices in Lagos and Abuja.
Porri said: “This place has been left redundant and the Executive Secretary now operates from Lagos and Abuja and comes here only once in three months. This is unacceptable! The Executive Secretary should stay here with us.
“The NCDMB laws stipulate that offices should be opened in only oil and gas areas, but the board has gone ahead to open offices in areas such as Lagos and Abuja which are not oil and gas producing areas.
”Some of the staff of the board like the security guards and drivers are working on contract basis, and this is unacceptable to us. We we want all the staff to be regularised.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Asuquo Amba, who arrived the scene later commended the youths for their peaceful disposition.
He appealed to them to remain calm saying the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, was aware of their grievances and had promised to resolve the matter.
Amba said: “I have to appreciate you for making this protest a very peaceful one, and I will still employ you to remain peaceful. But we should respect the sanctity of this place as the headquarters.
”I have listened to all your grievances. I am in touch with the state governor and I have spoken to him and if there is anybody to lead this protest, it is the state governor himself, but he has personally told me to come and address you, compile your grievances and forward them to him.
“The Executive Secretary of the Board has given me the assurance that all the issues that you have raised would be addressed and it would be addressed in such a way that we would have a peaceful environment so that we can have more economic progress.”
Earlier at a general congress, IYC Central Zone suspended the President of IYC Worldwide, Mr. Owolaemi Peretubo, from all activities in the zone, accusing him of conniving with the NCDMB.
The congress also condemned the killing of four soldiers and a civilian as well as the burning of houses in Letugbene, Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state where the military had launched a manhunt over the reported killing of their personnel.